(Reuters) – Defending champion Roger Federer saved two match points in a final set tiebreak before defeating Benoit Paire 6-3 3-6 7-6(7) in a thrilling contest to reach the Halle Open quarter-finals on Thursday.
Federer, who must win a record-extending 10th title in Halle to remain at the top of the world rankings, dropped a set for the first time in six meetings against the erratic Frenchman as the pair fought out a gripping two-hour duel.
The 36-year-old Swiss extended his winning run on grass to 18 matches as he continues a serene build-up to his title defence at Wimbledon next month but after easing through the first set found Paire in one of his more inspired moods.
Australian Matthew Ebden, competing in Halle at a career high ranking of 60, rallied from a set down to beat local hope Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-1 6-2 and will face Federer for the first time in his career in the last eight.
Croatia’s Borna Coric, who defeated second seed Alexander Zverev in the opening round, continued his steady progress with a 6-4 6-2 win over Georgian lucky loser Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The 21-year-old won 81 percent of his first serves and struck 20 winners in a dominant performance to book a place in the quarter-finals.